|Mile High Stadium|
|Location||2755 West 17th Avenue, Denver, Colorado 80204|
|Owner||City and County of Denver|
|Construction cost||$500,000 (originally)|
$24 million (1976 expansion)
|Former names||Bears Stadium (1948-1968)|
|Tenants||Denver Bears / Zephyrs (AAA) (1948-1992)|
Denver Broncos (AFL / NFL) (1960-2000)
Denver Gold (USFL) (1983-1985)
Colorado Rockies (MLB) (1993-1994)
Colorado Rapids (MLS) (1996-2001)
Colorado Caribous (NASL) (1978)
Denver Dynamos (NASL) (1974-1975)
Mile High Stadium (originally Bears Stadium) was a multi-purpose stadium, that stood in Denver, Colorado, from 1948 until 2001.
It hosted the Denver Broncos, of the AFL and the NFL, from 1960-2000, the Colorado Rockies, of the National League of MLB, from 1993-1994, the Colorado Rapids, of MLS, from 1996-2001, the Denver Gold, of the USFL, from 1983-1985 and the Denver Bears and Denver Zephyrs, of minor league baseball's Western League, American Association and PCL, from its completion in 1948, until 1992.
History[edit | edit source]
1940s[edit | edit source]
Mile High Stadium was originally built as Bears Stadium for minor league baseball by Bob Howsam in 1948 at the site of a former landfill. The stadium initially consisted of a single 17,000-seat grandstand stretching along the north side from the left field foul pole to the right field foul pole on the west side. Luther "Bud" Phillips hit the first official home run out of Bears Stadium.
1950s[edit | edit source]
In the late 1950s there was an attempt to form the Continental League led by the famous Dodger General Manager, Branch Rickey. Bob Howsam joined ranks with Rickey, pleading for a major league team in Denver. Advised that to get a major league franchise Denver would need a much larger ballpark, Bears Stadium would begin the first of its many expansions. Over eight thousand seats were added to the south stands, bringing stadium capacity to 23,100. The new east stands increased seating to 34,657.
Major League Baseball’s answer to the Continental League was to expand the league, which would eventually lead to the folding of the Continental League. Although Denver was not awarded a franchise, MLB promised teams in the future for Denver and other cities. Howsam was now trapped with a large stadium and debt he could not afford. Frantically searching for a solution, he turned to football. After meeting Lamar Hunt, Bud Adams, and George Halas, Howsam helped form the American Football League (AFL) and Denver was awarded the Broncos.
1960s[edit | edit source]
A large bleacher section was added along the south side and temporary east stands were built in 1960, raising the capacity to 34,000.
Howsam's ownership in the AFL was short-lived as overwhelming debt forced Howsam to sell all his sports interests in 1961. His dream of major league baseball in Denver would be placed on hold for another 30 years.
Denver had to settle for the minor league Bears and the AFL Broncos who resembled football's version of the early New York Mets. The players looked comical in their yellow and black vertical striped socks and mustard yellow and brown uniforms, and the team was sometimes derided by local fans in the stadium when the Broncos would take the field. It took a few years to gain a following. In 1961 they drew fewer fans in a year than the Broncos now draw in a single game. In the middle of the 1960s uniforms changed, there were some wins, attendance turned around and more locals caught what came to be known as "Bronco Fever".
One condition of including Denver in the AFL-NFL merger announced in 1966 was expanding Mile High Stadium to at least 50,000 capacity. This required adding second and third decks along the west sideline (first base line). This expansion was completed in 1968, when the stadium was sold to the city of Denver, which renamed it Mile High Stadium and built the upper deck along the west side, thus raising capacity to 50,000.
1970s[edit | edit source]
As ticket sales increased, the stadium expanded to 51,706 seats. With a $25 million bond issue in 1974 another stadium renovation added 24,000 more seats. By 1976 seating was up to 63,000 as the upper decks construction was completed along the north end zone (third base line). An ingenious expansion that took place from 1975-1977 raised the capacity to over 75,000 by extending the upper deck along the north side and building a movable triple-decked stands along the east side. When fully retracted, the stands would form a horseshoe for football, but when fully extended by 145 feet (44 m), the stadium could still fit a normal-sized baseball field. The structure was 535 feet (163 m) long, 135 feet (41 m) tall and 200 feet (61 m) deep, weighing nearly 9 million pounds (4,500 short tons, 4,000 metric tons). In order to move the stands over more than 90,000 square feet (8,000 m²) of runways, water was pumped onto the runways and formed a 0.003 inch (76 micrometer) sheet upon which the stands rested. Hydraulic rams then pushed the stands forward at the rate of three feet per minute (15 mm/s), taking about two hours from start to finish.
1980s[edit | edit source]
Mile High Stadium, in the 1970's and 1980's, was the only professional-caliber baseball facility to have an all grass infield, with sliding pits around bases. This unique feature was similar to several newer Major League Baseball stadiums that also used sliding pits, except those other stadiums all had artificial turf infields. In 1986, 77 luxury suites were added atop the west stands, increasing the official seating capacity to 76,123.
Billy Graham held his "Rocky Mountain Crusade" at the stadium in 1987.
The stadium hosted the final show of The 1988 Monsters of Rock Festival Tour, featuring Van Halen, Metallica, Scorpions, Dokken and Kingdom Come, on July 30, 1988.
1990s[edit | edit source]
The large size of the stadium combined with fan enthusiasm over the new team as well as some of the lowest ticket prices in Major League Baseball allowed the expansion Rockies to set Major League Baseball attendance records before moving to Coors Field for the 1995 season. The stadium was known for its loudness, the sound bouncing around within the horseshoe. Because of the large size of center and right fields and foul territory (although left field was shorter than average), as well as the 30-foot (10 m) high fence in center field, the stadium was not as problematic for pitchers as Coors Field proved to be. The club's 1993 season attendance was 4,483,350 in 79 home dates (81 games - 2 doubleheaders), an average of 56,751 per home date. The Rockies were on a pace to top that record in 1994 when the ballplayers' strike occurred. They had drawn 3,281,511 in 57 home dates (also 57 games), an average of 57,570 per home date. (Season attendance figures from The Sporting News Baseball Record Book, 2007, p.234; Game counts are from game logs on Retrosheet.)
The stadium played host to Ozzfest on June 24, 1997.
2000s[edit | edit source]
The final game at Mile High Stadium was December 23, 2000, in which the Broncos routed the Forty Niners, 38-9. The stadium again hosted Ozzfest, for the second and last time, on June 21, 2001 and hosted The Area:One Festival on July 26, 2001. The stadium was featured in Michael Moore's 2002 documentary Bowling for Columbine as the backdrop for Moore's interview with controversial rock musician Marilyn Manson during the 2001 Ozzfest tour.
Mile High Stadium was closed in 2001, after the Denver Broncos and Colorado Rapids moved to neighboring INVESCO Field at Mile High, upon the completion of the new stadium. The demolition of Mile High Stadium began in January 2002, an event covered extensively by local newspapers and broadcast live on television. The demolition was performed by Spirtas Wrecking Company of St. Louis, Mo., the same group that led the demolition of stadiums in St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Seattle. Mile High Stadium was brought down in segments rather than being imploded due to the rather complex nature of the structural steel foundation. The process took approximately three months to complete, and when the work was done on April 17, all that remained of Mile High Stadium was some concrete that became the foundation for INVESCO Field's parking lot.Template:Fact
References[edit | edit source]
- Toast of the Town: Mile High Stadium rose from a dumping ground into the symbol of the city
- Denver Bids Fond Farewell to Mile High Stadium